• It is Friday, December 21 and that means I am here to help break down tonight’s DFS slate and find some value. We have 10 games to sort through and we will have to monitor the news throughout the day for some of these plays to be in their best spots. Nonetheless, there is plenty of information we do have to go off of and plenty of options all over the board. Let’s jump right into this slate.

    Point Guard

    Jrue Holiday vs. Lakers $9,000 – We have some bodies that will be questionable going into late games and if Julius Randle and Nikola Mirotic are out we know Holiday sees a huge bump in usage. If Anthony Davis is forced to miss as well, well, just expect a ton of shots by Holiday. This is the one guy that could benefit from any Pelicans missing the game that doesn’t also have a questionable tag himself. This is a great spot on paper and the matchup is going to be fast. I wish he was still in the $8,000-$8,800 range, but I’ll still be getting plenty of exposure. Kyrie Irving makes for a solid pivot off of Holiday. Similar price range and both are very much in play.

    Donovan Mitchell vs. $7,100 Blazers – I just think this price tag is too low for Mitchell’s upside. The matchup could be better, but it’s not terrible. He’s taken over 20 shot attempts in each of the past three games and is averaging 34.3 DK over his last five games. He also makes a great pivot to a chalkier Derrick Rose play at a similar price.

    Fred VanVleet vs. Cavs $5,500 – There isn’t much meat left on bone with this price tag, but we know he will be getting plenty of minutes and the Cavs are one of the league’s worst teams at defending opposing point guards. As of early Friday morning I am not seeing a whole lot of value that I am locking in and VanVleet still possesses 35 DK-point upside.

    Shooting Guard

    Victor Oladipo vs. Nets $8,100 – Similar to Mitchell, I think that we are seeing Oladipo at a depressed salary. The matchup is a great one on paper and when these two teams faced off earlier in the year Oladipo dropped 46.3 DK points. Not much more to say about Dipo, he’s due to blow up soon and we have to remember what this guy’s price tag was looking like earlier in the season.

    Derrick Rose vs. Spurs $7,200 – We are seeing a price increase for Rose coming off of a massive overtime game where he took 29 shots. No Teague means we are going to see a boatload of Rose. He is going to be a somewhat chalky play, but I am hoping the matchup and price tag steer some people away from him and I am still expecting a massive usage for him tonight.

    Kent Bazemore vs. Knicks $6,200 – I’ve been riding Bazemore ever since Taurean Prince has gone down and this doesn’t look like the matchup to get off. It should be played at a face pace and I am not expecting a lot of defense to played. Bazemore has immense upside given the fact that he could rack up steals and rebounds quickly and the Knicks are a team that has some turnover-prone guards.

    Small Forward

    Kawhi Leonard vs. Cavs $9,500 – We already know that Kyle Lowry has been ruled out, so if you think this game stays close, jump on Leonard. There is obvious risk of blowout here, but that isn’t scaring me away from Leonard given his price tag with Lowry out. Leonard has already played the Cavs twice this season and is averaging almost 50 DK points per game; Lowry played in one of those games.

    Kyle Kuzma vs. Pelicans $7,200 – Kuzma has been one of the primary focuses of this Laker offense since Brandon Ingram has been out. By now, you guys know I love targeting the Pelicans due to the pace and high scoring. This is a fair price at $7,200 as he is averaging 36 DK points over the past five games and has been seeing a boatload of minutes. I really need Ingram to be ruled out to load up on Kuzma and I am a little worried because this is the late game and Ingram participated in Thursday’s practice.

    Gordon Hayward vs. Bucks $5,400 – I was all over Hayward in the Celtics’ last game against the Suns. Marcus Morris was ruled out of that game prior to tipoff and that opens up the opportunity for Hayward to take advantage of the small ball lineups. The problem was he only took eight shot attempts, but on the bright side still managed 28.75 DK points so I didn’t get burned. Morris is currently being considered questionable and if forced to miss again I am going right back to the well. I am not looking at a whole ton of value this slate and if the chips fall into place Hayward could be viable. We could also to look to Marcus Smart and Daniel Theis in the situation in which Morris misses as well. Theis should see a small bump regardless with Aron Baynes being ruled out already, but I am really worried this game goes small.

    Power Forward

    Anthony Davis vs. Lakers $11,700 – The whole world was burned by Davis last game when he took one of his notorious trips to the locker room. He was on pace to smash and had 29.5 DK points at the end of the first quarter. If Randle and Mirotic are both forced to sit out again I think we have to look this way. We have a ton of mid-tier value, so spending up on Davis may not be the optimal approach, but I can promise that I will have exposure if the situation sets up right.

    Jaren Jackson Jr. vs. Kings- $5,800 – I love this spot for Jackson regardless, but I am going to be all over him if JaMychal Green is ruled out. Currently Green is being listed as a GTD with left hamstring soreness, so this isn’t just a case where he is questionable with an illness. I will be tentative to play Jackson if Green does play, but he will be low-owned and not having the news could play into our advantage.

    Pascal Siakam vs. Cavs $6,300 – If we get the word that Serge Ibaka is sitting out again I think we go back to the well. It’s pretty simple with this situation in DFS.  If any main pieces of this Raptors’ offense are out we see Kawhi Leonard and Siakam get a huge increase in usage. It’s the first game of the night so the news should be there for us.

    Center

    Nikola Vucevic vs. Bulls $9,200 – The Bulls are poor against defending every position, the center spot being one of their worst. Vucevic missed the last game due to the birth of a child, which gives us a little narrative. It also gave him plenty of time to rest coming into this game. He is a little expensive, but we also saw him drop 49 DK points in this matchup earlier this season.

    Enes Kanter vs. Hawks $7,000 – We know what kind of upside Kanter has on any given night and with Mitchell Robinson already ruled out we get a security blanket on his minutes. This is a great spot for Kanter as this should be a fast-paced game with very little defense being played. There is always risk baked into playing any Knicks, but the upside is there for both Kanter and Hardaway on this slate.

    Larry Nance Jr. vs. Raptors $6,700 – Nance is in play every night. He is a boom/bust type play where if the games stay close he is almost guaranteed to boom. Nance has been doing it all and filling the stat sheet in these situations and the Cavs have been hanging around in games longer than expected. Kyle Lowry has already been ruled out and that may be the help we need to keep this game close in order for Nance to smash for us again.

    As always I would just like to give a big thank you to those who have supported the “Beat the Expert” Hoop Ball contest. We filled up 61 spots and I am hoping to see that number rise next week. If you have any questions or concerns you could find me on Twitter @mikeapotria. Good Luck and take down a GPP for the Hoop Ball community.

Fantasy News

  • Wesley Matthews
    SG, Milwaukee Bucks

    Wesley Mathews headed to the locker room in Tuesday's game vs. the Wizards.

    Matthews is a starting placeholder right now, but guys like Donte DinVincenzo are the ones holding more value. If Matthews is unable to return, expect DiVincenzo, Pat Connaughton and Kyle Korver to pick up the slack.

    Source: Matt Velasquez on Twitter

  • Julius Randle
    PF, New York Knicks

    Julius Randle had another good stat line on Tuesday with 24 points (10-of-19 FGs, 4-of-5 FTs), five rebounds, two assists and one steal in 37 minutes in a 92-97 road loss to the Hornets.

    Randle hasn't been as bad as he was to begin the season lately. However, he still has a tough time providing even mid-round value, which is rare for a 20-point, 10-rebound player. If his percentages are wearing on your team, it might be wise to try to sell him off to someone that doesn't look past points, rebounds and assists. Elfrid Payton also contributed significantly to the Knicks' effort with 10 points, eight rebounds, eight assists and a steal in 33 minutes.

  • Mitchell Robinson
    C, New York Knicks

    Mitchell Robinson blocked five shots, pulled down 10 rebounds and hit both of his field goals in 26 minutes off the bench vs. the Hornets on Tuesday.

    Robinson swatted a few shots down the stretch, helping to keep the game close, but the Knicks couldn’t quite catch the Hornets. While it's been frustrating to watch the Knicks limit Robinson's role this season, he's still a valuable fantasy player that can't be dropped. His blocks and field goal percentage are elite, and there always the chance he makes the jump from middle-round value to early-round value like he did last season.

  • Dennis Smith Jr.
    PG, New York Knicks

    Dennis Smith Jr. showed up in the box score on Tuesday with seven points on 3-of-6 shooting, three rebounds and two assists in 15 minutes in a loss to the Hornets.

    This is the most Smith has played in nearly two months. And while the results weren't anything special, it could be the start of a regular role in the rotation once again now that he's looking healthier. Also encouraging for those with their eye on Smith is the fact that Frank Ntilikina played for just three minutes in this game.

  • Marc Gasol
    C, Toronto Raptors

    Marc Gasol is dealing with hamstring tightness and has been ruled out for the remainder of Tuesday's game.

    Gasol is fragile, especially given his age. The wear and tear adds up and aches and pains such as this are par for the course. He was able to log 16 minutes in this one and post 10 points on 4-of-5 shooting with two 3s, two blocks, one rebound and one assist. Serge Ibaka will feast on those center minutes and return a strong game.

    Source: Ryan Wolstat on Twitter

  • Marc Gasol
    C, Toronto Raptors

    Marc Gasol headed to the locker room in Tuesday's game vs. the Hawks.

    Gasol has been solid since returning from his previous injury. If he's unable to return, Serge Ibaka is an easy slot-in for the Raptors at center.

    Source: Blake Murphy on Twitter

  • Chandler Hutchison
    SF, Chicago Bulls

    Chandler Hutchison (right shoulder and left hip soreness) is probable to face the Pacers on Wednesday.

    Hutchison is too banged up to be relied upon. Look elsewhere for help from the FA pool.

    Source: NBA Injury Report

  • Denzel Valentine
    SF, Chicago Bulls

    Denzel Valentine (right hip strain) is probable to face the Pacers on Wednesday.

    While the Bulls are all pretty banged up, Valentine was able to pop off for a season-high 16 points on Monday. He's stepping up and should be on watch lists for managers playing in 14-team leagues or deeper.

    Source: NBA Injury Report

  • Tomas Satoransky
    PG, Chicago Bulls

    Tomas Satoranksy (left ankle soreness) is probable to play vs. the Pacers on Wednesday.

    Sato was probable coming into Monday's game and was able to play, so it's a safe-ish assumption that he will be able to do it again.

    Source: NBA Injury Report

  • Zach LaVine
    PG, Chicago Bulls

    Zach LaVine (right ankle sprain, right knee discomfort) is probable to play for the Bulls on Wednesday.

    The Bulls are aching for offense with Lauri Markkanen on the sidelines and have been heavily reliant on LaVine for his scoring punch. He's slightly banged up and if he does manage to play, a maintenance rest day could be in the cards.

    Source: NBA Injury Report